Check out my other blog

Hello to those who follow me here despite my infrequent posts. I want to invite you to check out and follow my other blog, Off The Record: A Vinyl Podcast. If you like music and conversing about said music, this may be of interest to you. You can follow the podcast at…


Rape Culture… It’s Real

I amazes me that even though I was raised during a time when adult men repeatedly repeatedly told me to respect women, many of them never knew what that really meant. Many of those same men lived lives defined by misogyny and chauvinism. So much so that they have since gone on the defensive when women started pushing to be treated equal. Over the years they have become scared of losing their position as man of the house and king of the castle. They fear women with strength to the extent that they must try to knock them down figuratively via verbal abuse, slut shaming, or calling them names like “bitch” or “frigid”. And sadly in this day and age men still literally try to knock them down through rape and/or physical abuse.

I had the idea of writing a blog article on rape culture for a while. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long. Perhaps I was waiting to accumulate enough evidence from current events? Perhaps deep down I was worried what other me would think of me or say in retort to this blog? And let’s face it, there are going to be guys reading this who will at least think ill of me and some of them will even be brazen enough to actually respond. I know you are out there. By all means, respond to me, challenge me, call me names, (try to) insult me, I don’t give a fuck. I know my experiences, I can better see past events now than I ever could when they happened. I’ve been to bachelor parties where men willingly and without hesitation would cheat on their wives or girlfriends while at the same time calling the stripper a “slut” just for working as a stripper. If you can’t seen the double standard, you are part of the problem. If you can’t see that there is no shame when a women chooses how to work with her body and certainly not worse than a man cheating on his partner, you have issues. I’ve known men who starting dating / sleeping with underage women who have risen into positions of authority, being “respected” by his peers. I’ve even experienced the tyranny and verbal abuse of my father. Don’t get me wrong, I love my father despite what a tyrant he was. I love him despite his many faults which we all have. However he is the quintessential do as I say, not as I do type father. His actions were anything but a good role model for how to have a healthy relationship with a partner. Years of verbal abuse towards my mother (and me and my siblings) did not prepare me to have a healthy relationship with other women. And it wasn’t just verbal abuse per se but his blatant disregard for my mother’s opinion on matters. Even to this day, though softened over time, emotional erosion, those tendencies still come out. I still get irritated when after my mother spends all day cooking a family meal, my dad asks her “can you put the coffee on”. I usually remind him he is fully capable making coffee. Others just roll their eyes intimating “he’s never gonna change”. True, he won’t change at this point. That doesn’t make it right. I’m fairly positive my family will be upset with me airing dirty laundry but if I’m going to pontificate on this topic, I must open and honest about the various forms of misogyny I have seen over the years.

The end result is that many men feel they are entitled. Entitled to having the only opinion that matters, entitled to sex with any woman, entitled to control the lives of women close to them. These are just but a few examples. Examples of a mentality that has grown over time and today allows headlines to laud a rapist’s swim times than condemn the rape he was found guilty of committing. A mentality that still puts the onus on women to prevent their own rape by not dressing in a way to attract a rapist. A society that shames girls with dress code violations because it is distracting to boys rather than educating boys about consent and their responsibility to not rape. In a day an age when “accountability” is a buzzword of the times, there seems to be very little accountability for teaching young boys to not rape or the rapists themselves, even when found guilty.

While rapist Brock Turner is probably the most well know recent failure of the law and society to hold a rapist accountable for his actions, there are many more were that came from. Again, if you can read these and not see the problem, not see the culture that exists which enables rapists to get away with their crimes and / or shift the blame, then you are part of the problem. You are certainly free to disagree, you are free to have a dissenting opinion but that opinion garners no right for respect and if you disagree, I have no respect for that opinion, not on this topic

This first example comes from our neighbors from the North who are no less immune to misogyny and cruelness. In perhaps the ultimate alienation of a victim, Judge Robin Camp asked a rape victim why she couldn’t “just keep her knees together”. This is victim blaming pure and simple. Such a statement is ignorant and insulting to say the least. It completely takes the onus off the perpetrator of this crime to insinuate that she could have stopped the rape through her own actions.

What could be more egregious than Brock Turner’s laughable and insulting sentence? How about a commuted sentence for a child rapist? After video taping his rape of a child and being found guilty, Kraigen Grooms spent a mere 2 years in juvenile detention and then had the following 10 year sentence suspended by Judge Randy Degeest. Let that sink in… 2 years for a child rape that was video taped.

In Steubenville Ohio, two football players were found guilty of rape thanks to the efforts of an Anonymous hacker who found evidence of a cover up by school administrators and parents. While the football players received insulting sentences of no more than two years, the hacker has been in indicted for allegedly “conspiring to access an online account to draw attention to a 2012 high-school rape case in Ohio.” and facing a possible sixteen year sentence. So, to paraphrase the article, apparently in the eyes of the law, it’s worse to force you way into a computer than to force your way into a woman.

The above article highlights how prone women are, how untrained flight crews are, and in some instances, the lack of empathy of the flight crew when rape and sexual assault occurs on airplanes. Airlines do not even have specific procedures for handling these incidents. Adding insult to injury, it shows how difficult it is to prosecute the perpetrators and how in many countries it is not even considered an issue get upset about, with one perpetrator being allowed to leave the plane without any questioning by authorities let alone detainment. Victims were told by to let go and get on with your life buy airline personnel, FBI, and police. While sky marshals were created in response to terrorism, it’s beyond me that airlines have not worked with sky marshals to expand their responsibilities to respond to these when they are on flights and device specific protocols to be followed when it is reported.
If you read these and cannot see the blatant culture of entitlement and victim blaming, if you cannot see that the perpetrators were afforded leniency and more concern for their futures than that of their victims, then I submit you cannot read or comprehend the English language. I submit you are blind to the this illness that permeates our society. If you live in denial of this, you are the sociological equivalent to the ignorant groups who deny the Earth is round. To all he men reading this in disagreement, I ask you to think really hard about other men you know. I guarantee you know a man who has this entitlement. I’m not saying you know a rapist, but you likely know a man who treats women as property, who feels women do not have valuable opinions. We need to call them out on this. And if you don’t know a man who fits this description, then you need to take a long look in the mirror, for it may be you.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the solution will be quick. While there are some who may disagree with me, I still tell everyone to be careful. I say it to men and women equally and unfortunately when it comes to rape, women do still need to be careful. NOT because it’s their responsibility to prevent it, it’s not, but because this will not change over night. Like biological evolution, the evolution of this disgusting male mentality will take time. Entitled, misogynistic men will not learn consent overnight, they will not stop physically forcing themselves on women in the next week, they will not stop drugging women or raping intoxicated women by the end of next month. And we as reasonable, intelligent, emotionally secure men are the start to that change. We need to teach consent to younger men, teach them that it is their responsibility to not rape, teach them that there is no expectations from women of sex in any scenario, that women’s choices need to be respected. We need to call out chauvinistic peers who treat women like property. If we don’t, we fail everybody. We fail those young men, we fail future victims of rape, we fail ourselves.

Stop Making Assumptions About My Politics

There is a lot that annoys me but what annoys me most of recent are people so bereft of logic, they immediately assume since I speak out frequently against Trump, I must be for Clinton. It’s just as bad as those who can’t comprehend you can be against war and still support out troops. I realize that many people are unable to think outside the box and divorce themselves from the dogma and ideology of the two party system our government shoves down our throats (or that any situation can have more than two answers / opinions  / outcomes / etc). And as such, you can’t view the political views of others without confining it to the narrow definition of government you maintain. Just STOP IT! Honestly, stop it. It’s a narrow minded and grossly incorrect viewpoint that does not apply to a great many of us.

And let me be clear, I am not Pro-Clinton. Let me say it another way. I’m not for Trump AND I’m not for Clinton. My overall feeling is that she is as fake as they come, she is a conservative wolf in sheep’s clothing, and while she pushes for a lot of liberal social issues that I am for, she only does so to cover and mitigate other conservative agendas. I have nothing against the President being a woman. There are women who I would like to see President. Just not Clinton.

So now you are thinking, “Oh, he’s gonna waste his vote for on a third party”. The truth is I will likely be voting for a third party candidate of some kind. However, it’s not a waste. YOU only think it’s a waste because a vote for a third party may jeopardize your candidate winning. The reality is, if you and your beloved two party system would actually produce decent candidates instead of the dreck we have, you wouldn’t have to worry about a third party vote raining on your parade. You and your two party system are to blame for people wanting to vote outside of them. It’s time to be accountable and own up to it.

Honestly, I don’t think trying to introduce a third party by way of voting in a third party President every four years is a sound plan. Actually, it’s a rather bad plan. Even if elected, that President would have to battle against both parties in Congress. It would be a much more sound plan to build from the ground up. To get third party politicians elected to state assemblies, state governors, and then Congress so that if a third party president is elected, they would then have allies in Congress. Unfortunately, until then, the presidential elections are one of the few avenues we have to voice our displeasure and dissent of the two parties. Sadly, it seems that third parties don’t even have the ability to merge with and/or affect the dominate two. Which is not how it should be.

While I can’t speak with any proof, I would wager that most of the public view the Democratic and Republican parties as linear parties that have existed since the dawn of our country with little evolution of their values. That has certainly been true in recent years but that is not what our government is meant to be. Our government was meant to grow and evolve with time not become a static process of two unchanging parties or to evolve to a certain point and stop. Even with a cursory look at the below graph, one can see a dramatic difference prior to 1900.political_parties_posterParties formed and unformed, politicians more frequently went from one party to another, and other parties formed and absorbed into others, thereby affecting some change. You see far less of it after 1900. What is truly sad is that the two parties we have today have become exclusive groups of a sort, barely acknowledging third parties as legitimate competitors (i.e. not letting them debate) and building up a defense against third parties affecting change upon them. Bernie Sanders and his followers may be an exception, but only time will tell.

So why am I so much harder on Trump than Clinton? First, I expect it from Clinton. She is a career politician that is part of the problem. It’s no surprise to me. I take no issue with the attacks lobbied against her and I take no issue with those who oppose her. While I don’t attack her as much as Trump, I also don’t defend her. Second, Trump and those that support him invite it on themselves. Again, it’s your own fault. As much as Trump amazes me his supporters, their defense of him, and their flawed arguments for him amaze me even more. The two most common arguments for him are “He can’t be bought” and “He speaks his mind”.

The “He can’t be bought” reasoning is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve pointed this out prior so I apologize if you are reading it again. The reason he can’t be bought is because he is usually the buyer. If you elect him, all you are doing is cutting out the middle man. Instead of electing the bought politician, you are electing the man who would have bought the politician. The wealthy and politicians have been in bed together since the beginning scratching each others backs. To think Trump has become some altruistic friend of the poor and middle class who will push for legislation to benefit us is ignorant and laughable. Trump is only looking out for Trump and his fellow wealthy upper class cronies.

As for speaking his mind, I understand the yearning for a politician who speaks their mind and gives honest answers. In a time when politicians do nothing but answer around questions, avoid questions, lie, and insult their opponents, I agree it would be a nice change. However, speaking one’s mind is not always good. Let’s take a look at just some examples of Trump speaking his mind.

  • “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”- I truly don’t understand how conservatives, especially those in the military defend this statement. It is a complete slap in the face to our soldiers and POW’s.
  • “Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!”- When speaking out reveals your own ignorance that Scotland voted to stay in the EU. Do you really want a president with such a poor understanding of the world outside of the U.S.
  • “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next President?”- Trump on Carly Fiorina. So what does her looks have to do with politics? How about some actual facts as to why she should not be elected instead of just insulting her? Classic non-answer.
  • Lets not forget him mocking a handicapped person. Very classy, so presidential. Tell me again how you excuse that?
  • “I know words, I have the best words,”- I rest my case.

Here’s the thing, I don’t disagree he is speaking his mind without a filter. It’s just not worth anyone’s admiration. I’m pretty sure most of you Trump supporters would correct and/or punish your children to some degree if they mocked a handicapped person or if they made fun of how someone looked. If you wouldn’t, then you have a problem and probably shouldn’t have kids. If you would but for some reason you think it’s OK for a grown man to do so and be President, you still have a problem.

At the end of the day, Trump’s version of speaking his mind is no different than other politicians practicing politics as usual. He still talks around questions rather than answering them, he still lies, he still insults opponents like every other politician. He just does it louder, with more vitriol, and with more ignorance than other politicians. He is more concerned with how powerful he looks, not wanted to show any weakness or admit being wrong, just like every other politician. The argument that he speaks his mind is a farce. It is an unsupported argument.

You know what would be a politician speaking their mind in a true and admirable way. A politician who actually answers a question with facts or at least opinions based on stated facts instead of some vague response or insult. A politician who has the strength to say, “I was wrong” and not be concerned about appearing as some infallible leader. You know they are human, I know they are human, how about they actually act like it.

Clinton does none of these things. Trump does none of these things however he goes over the top with his rhetoric, insults, and non-answers. I go after Trump way more than Clinton because he provides far more fodder to show his ignorance and ineptitude. If you can’t see it or understand that, I’m sorry for your blindness to it. Regardless, stop making the sad, tunnel visioned, binary, incorrect assumption that those of us against Trump are also for Clinton.


A Double Edged Sword

Let me preface all of this by saying I love the fact that I’m Polish. I’m proud of it. I enjoy acknowledging the many achievements of famous Polish people such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Marie Curie (born Maria Salome Skłodowska), and Frédéric Chopin (born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin) much to the chagrin of those who actually believe the numerous insults hurled at Polish intellect. However, I would also argue that it is this same pride in one’s nationality that causes just as many, if not more at times, problems and strife in the world.

While everyone has a right and should carry a measure of pride in their heritage, we all know those that take it too far. We all know that person who consistently regards themselves as better than other purely based on their nationality for no other reason than they are that nationality. Rarely do they base this belief on any accepted fact because frankly there is no accepted fact that makes one nationality or culture inherently or generally better than another. Yet people and even whole families do this. There is a huge difference between carrying yourself with pride and being too prideful. Many people take themselves and their heritage too seriously and it creates problems. Eventually a person, a family, a group starts to believe their own hype to a degree that they encroach upon someone else’s life / lives.

The examples of this are numerous with the two that come to mind quickly, the Alsace-Lorraine border and the Polish-German border. Borders change due to many social, economic, and political reasons which can at times also lead to war. However, at the root of all that is the simple notion that one group thinks they are better and/or more deserving than the other for no justifiable reason. The social, economic, political, and military clashes between groups (with rare exception such as Hitler’s megalomania) are really just giant pissing contests on a grand and sometimes destructive scale. In the end, nothing is really accomplished. To take the Alsace-Lorraine and Polish-German borders as examples again, both of those areas have undergone centuries of political and/or military fighting with numerous border changes back an forth. Each country gaining and and losing land over the years. And what is the end result? Today both of those regions are inhabited by people who are basically half French, half German or half Polish and half German living side by side in relative, comparative peace. I’m sure there are still some that hold grudges but we no longer have the border wars of years past in those regions. The people living there on each side of the border are more alike than they are different. And it only took centuries of fighting to achieve that. Imagine all the lives and money that could have been saved if they just skipped the middle man. All that fighting and conflict did was arrive at an arbitrary, invisible, border that attempts to separate people but ultimately fails to do so. French marries German, German marries Polish, the cultures meld. The wars between, ultimately useless acts of bravado, testosterone, and pride that serve no purpose.

As I said in the previous paragraph, those people that live in these areas ultimately wind up being more similar than different. Why? Because nationalities are really false man made concepts. Some of you may be put off by that statement and it’s true none the less. While nationalities may indeed have different customs, languages, etc, those customs are usually borrowed from a neighboring culture or nationality and evolve into something slightly or drastically different. Languages evolved by taking vocabulary and syntax from others. Unless you come from a culture that existed in total isolation from others, your customs, language, art, pretty much everything is not unique. Biologically we are all the same. There is no difference between you and the person who lives across the street, the person who lives in a bordering country, or the person who lives half way around the world from you. You are exactly the same species.

To put it another way, nationalities are just as fake and made up as dog breeds with the exception that 1) we are not inbred (well, with the exception of some Royal families and pockets within certain nations) and 2) dogs don’t seem to dislike or feel superior to other dogs soley because they are a different breed. You may not like that analogy and too bad, it fits. Breeds are fake. There is nothing “pure” about them unless you consider inbreeding a form of pureness. And just as a Gold Retriever can successfully mate with a Poodle, someone from North America can reproduce with someone from the Middle East, A Jewish person can have children with someone from Japan, a Scandinavian can have children with someone from Africa.

There is also a high degree of hypocrisy in people who are overly prideful of their nationality. There is an immunity many feel of their nationality. It is most evident in of all things, jokes. My aim is not to debate whether ethnic jokes are acceptable. That is an topic in and of itself that would fill pages. The point I’m making is something I’ve seen time and time again. A person of certain nationality, say Italian, will sit and tell all sorts of ethnic jokes but the moment someone tries to tell them an Italian joke, it’s off limits. Somehow, they feel they can make fun of any culture or nationality but no one can make fun of their own. And I’m not picking on Italians. I’ve seen Polish, Irish, etc all do the same. They carry a level of superiority that is both hypocritical and undeserved. But they never see it and they get angry when challenged about it. For the record, I enjoy a good Polish joke. The key word being “good”.

At the end of the day we are all the same. We are all Homo sapiens sapiens. Unfortunately, most people become blind to that. Most see the external, superficial differences that have evolved over the centuries and use that as a means to act superior to one another.

So while I champion your right to be proud of your heritage and the positive accomplishments of your culture, I also ask everyone to stop being assholes and taking yourselves too seriously. Stop being overly prideful and extolling your superiority just because you belong to a certain country or have a certain heritage. It’s ugly, it’s counter productive, and you only contribute to the ills of the world.